Monthly Archives: May 2014

It’s Me Time!

When I was in my 20’s, I was on my own with two little kids and I had a job as a waitress. The restaurant I worked for offered health insurance, but if I wanted coverage for all 3 of us, it was going to cost $497 per month. I was barely skimming by just paying for rent, utilities and food for the kids (I waitressed so I could get a free meal every day. Most of the time, it was the only meal I ate that day) so there was no way I could afford that additional expense. I knew the importance of being able to go to a regular doctor, or needing to go to an emergency room, see a dentist, and an optometrist, and I knew I needed insurance to do this. My only option was to get Medi-Cal, which is state funded health insurance.

I am a proud person, so getting “welfare insurance” was pretty embarrassing at the time. But looking back now, boy was I lucky I had that. The kids had falls that required stitches, I had strep throat countless times, Ryan had the worst case of chicken pox his doctor had ever seen, Nolan got German Measles, I had an old filling fall out and needed a root canal and on top of all that? I can’t see distance and needed an optometrist for annual exams and contact lenses. Lucky indeed. I had that insurance for us until the day Wil and I got married, when the 3 of us could be added to his insurance through the union.

Finding doctors that took Medi-Cal was tough (no internet back then to make it easy) but I managed. Along the way, I found organizations that offered screenings and basic care needs that were either free or very low cost if they didn’t take Medi-Cal. I loved that those services were available then, and now that I’m not a struggling single mom on  waitress wages, I donate to them annually so that people like me can use the services the same way I did 20 years ago. During those years, I learned the importance of annual screenings, wellness checkups, and being proactive in maintaining health.

In March of this year, I wrote a blog post called “The Other Side of Depression.” I talked about seeing symptoms in Wil that turned out to be depression, and the steps we took to get him help to treat it. He didn’t have those issues his whole life, it was something that surfaced in his late 20’s, so it wasn’t something he had ever talked about with his doctor. Many people on my blog and on Twitter seemed to appreciate the honesty in the symptoms, how Wil got treatment, but mostly, how I saw this in him and how it affected me and our kids. The health and function of your brain is just as important as any other part of your body, so I’m glad that talking about it helped others in one way or another.

Then in April, I was contacted by someone at,  a website dedicated to all aspects of women’s health and well-being concerns/issues. They asked if I would do an extensive interview with them, which will be featured on their “Spotlight” page; a place where they post one interview a month from a woman on a specific topic. They saw my post about Wil’s depression, and thought it would really help other women who may be dealing with the same thing with their husband. I agreed to do the interview, which will post on their site sometime in the near future.

Every year since Wil and I got married (when I was 30) I designated May as “me month.” As a mother of two young kids and working full-time as a hairdresser, I rarely made time for myself. But I know the importance of staying healthy, so having a month that reminded me to take care of myself by scheduling annual exams became a priority. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have known I have nodules on my thyroid, which I now get checked twice a year. Staying proactive about your health is the best thing you can do for yourself and for the people who love you.

I love that this week, May 11-17, has officially become National Women’s Health Week.  I don’t know how long that’s been a thing (maybe it was a thing back when I was 30 and that’s how it got in my head to make May “me month”) but I think it’s awesome. I’ve reminded friends over the years to schedule exams and when I got on Twitter almost 3 years ago, I reminded women there. Last week, I was asked by the people at if I would be willing to be an Ambassador for them in reminding women of the importance of their health. Since I already do it anyway, I was more than happy to!

So, ladies, as your official Ambassador, I am here to remind you to take care of you. Whether you have a doctor and insurance or need to Google a credible place near you that offers the annual screenings you need at either no-cost or low-cost to you, now is the time to schedule. You matter in this world; to your family, your friends, your co-workers and most importantly, to yourself. You get one life so be the healthiest you can be to enjoy it to its fullest!


A Day To Remember

Every year as Mother’s Day approaches, I can’t help but feel like it’s a silly “holiday” created by Hallmark to sell cards. But every year on the actual day, my mind fills with memories of all the handmade cards and gifts my kids gave me when they were little and it makes me so happy.

Today, I found an old photo of me, Ryan and Nolan, taken in front of the little duplex I was renting back in 1995. They are 5 and 3 in the photo, and I was 25. I was really struggling to support us back then, but I did everything I could to find fun things to do, and tried to take as many pictures as possible of us with my old 35 mm camera that my parents gave me for my 18th birthday.

We don’t live too far from that duplex, so I thought it would be fun to go back and re-create that photo of us today. It’s been 19 years since that was taken, and I love that the building still looks the same. The 3 of us have all gotten older, the kids are obviously bigger, but standing on that lawn together felt like walking into a time capsule. We lived through some pretty tough times there, but we wouldn’t have the life we have now if we hadn’t lived that life then. I would do it all again in a heartbeat knowing the men those boys have become. Best Mother’sDay, ever.


Walking In Your Footsteps

Last week, Wil and I went to The White House to attend a private reception for people who helped Americans in signing up for the Affordable Care Act. It was really neat getting to meet people who had done everything from talking about it on social media (which Wil did) to people who helped fix the website when it did a massive crash after so many people tried to sign up at once.  I was so stinkin’ nervous as we were leaving our hotel to go there that my knees were actually shaking. It ended up being a lot of fun and I totally shook Barack Obama’s hand. The whole evening was an experience I will never forget.

The following day, Wil and I decided to set out for a sightseeing/tourist adventure. With a map in hand (and not the ideal shoes on my feet) we walked our way around the city. We saw several monuments, walked through gorgeous parks, and decided to choose one museum to go through since we only had the one day to do this. We chose the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The tour started by getting an “Identification Card” which looks like a passport booklet. There’s two stacks, one for women, one for men. Inside the booklet is a photo and information about a person who had lived and/or died during this horrific time in history. They give you these cards, with real names and photos of these victims,  so it personalizes the experience and so you understand this isn’t about just a bunch of nameless faces. I got Zelda Piekarska, a young Jewish girl from Poland. The Germans took over her town, took everything from them, and moved her and her family into a tiny space with other families. She was separated from her family shortly after and worked in labor camps in unbelievably horrible conditions for over 2 years before being liberated by the Soviet Army, eventually emigrating to America in 1949.

We hadn’t even gone through the doors where we would see artifacts, read stories, watch video, and see photos of the gruesome torture thousands of people were put through for no reason, and I was already choking back tears. I had a surprising sense of relief in knowing the girl on the identification card I chose had actually made it out of there alive. We had been there all of 5 minutes and I was personally invested.

Wil and I worked our way through the museum in silence (as pretty much everyone in the whole building did) seeing everything from a real Nazi uniform worn by a soldier to hundreds of real leather shoes worn by victims who were asked to undress, shower, then join 1000 other people in a room before carbon monoxide was pumped in, killing them all. There were large shoes for men, smaller shoes with heels that women wore, and very small ones that had obviously been worn by children.

I won’t share anymore of the story since we all learned about this in history class, and I know there’s been books and movies made over the years that many of us have read and seen. But walking through the Holocaust Memorial Museum is something I will never, ever forget. When the tour was over, Wil and I walked out of there in silence, holding hands a little tighter than usual, as we walked back out into the city.

We made our way down to the Lincoln Memorial and stood on the steps where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech about having a dream that someday there would be equal rights for everyone, regardless of the color of their skin. This speech happened less than 20 years after thousands of Jewish people were murdered and tortured in a country just an ocean away. We went inside the building and watched video of his speech from that day in 1963, where people had held up picket signs, some for and some against the equal rights this man was talking about on those steps. Such an incredible difference from the people who had all of their rights and their lives taken from them without a choice not so long ago.

It’s pretty incredible to look back on history and see how far we’ve come. The sacrifices and triumphs we benefit from now make me so grateful to be living in this day and age. We still have a ways to go, but I’m glad we keep moving  forward in taking steps toward an even better future for generations to come.



Panic Button, Pushed.

A few weeks ago, I was summoned to attend jury duty. I’ve had to do it a couple of times in the past, always spending the day sitting there while the attorneys interviewed prospective jurors in the jury box, while I waited on the benches with everyone else. I’ve always thought it would be kind of fun (or at least interesting) to be a juror, but I was never chosen. Never even got called up to be interviewed.

On my first day in court, I sat in a waiting area with dozens and dozens of potential jurors. Groups of at least 40 people at a time were called away while I continued to wait. After a couple of hours where two different groups of people left, then returned, I was called in. We were taken into a courtroom where there were four attorneys, two at each table, their clients next to them, and the judge. The judge proceeded to tell us who everyone was, and what the case was about.

As soon as the judge said the plaintiff was The County of Los Angeles, I knew this would not be a quick case. As much as I thought being on a case would be interesting, Wil and I have so many different things going on that anything more than say, a week, would seriously mess up stuff for us. Don’t get me wrong. I am aware that this is my civic duty. I’m getting to the part where it felt like anything but that.

The defendant was a contractor, and his company had done work on a couple of historic buildings in the local area. We didn’t get too much detail on the case other than the County wasn’t happy with it and refused to pay the contractor the additional billing he requested. Basically, they were suing each other. I can only imagine a contracting company has got to have a great reputation if he gets to work on stuff like this for the city, so for this guy to sue in return means he is gambling on winning the case.  If he doesn’t win, that’ll be the end of his company.

The judge went on to explain that this case will take approximately 50 days, possibly longer. FIFTY DAYS. Ten weeks of our lives are about to come to a screeching halt. My heart began to race. I started thinking of all the deadlines and commitments and travel already booked that I would have to not only bail out on, but responsibilities that Wil and I share would all be dumped on him, just as he was about to launch a crowd-funding campaign for TableTop while simultaneously preparing for his show on SyFy. I was so anxious for both of us and how we would manage. Total panic.

The judge asked the 40 of us to raise our hand if we could not commit to that time frame. All but two of us raised our hands. One by one, we had to stand up and say why we couldn’t do it. People said everything from the financial hardship it would cause, to their business needing them to run it , to caring for elderly parents or small children. The judge excused us for lunch, but had all of us come back after.

When we returned, I was one of twelve that were called up to the jury box to be interviewed. I explained my commitments and my inability to stay for fifty days. A week? No problem. Ten to twelve weeks? I couldn’t do it. I also explained that I’m currently being treated for anxiety and that a trial this long would not be good for me. (To be clear, it’s anxiety during super stressful situations, not a daily issue for me like it is for some, but a thing that I finally talked to my doctor about a few months back, and I take Ativan if it’s needed.) Everyone had their turn to speak, some even being excused and replaced by a new potential juror. They would come back to me, asking my experience with working with contractors, family members possibly in this business or other jobs connected to the business. It didn’t matter that I have a family member who’s an architect or another who’s a D.A. They kept making their rounds of questions, always keeping me in the box.

The defendant on this case sat next to his attorney at the table, which was directly across from me in the front of the jury box. He seemed to be staring everyone down, with a small smirk on his face. Occasionally, he would even doze off. Here we are, a room full of people who are about to be forced to put our lives on hold, yet he’s dozing. He would sit up a bit, wake himself, and settle back in to looking at us with a smirk that made me SO uncomfortable because he kept his eyes mostly on me.

You ever get a feeling from someone just by watching their body language that they are the kind of person who would lie, steal and take short cuts to even their own family members just to get ahead? That was this guy. I’ve seen guys like him. My father was one. So was my ex-husband. It was the smirk on the guys’ face that made it all connect for me. This guy was about to take control of our lives with this case, even if he was wrong in the matter, because he didn’t want to pay the county for his mistakes. I’m a really good judge of character in people, so I felt like my instincts were right about this guy. The attorneys seemed satisfied with my answers to their questions, and it was obvious I was going to stay.

And that’s when the panic set in. I could feel myself choking back tears as I looked up at the clock on the wall, then over at the judge. My eyes briefly meeting the defendants eyes, who were now completely fixated on me,  the smirk on his face broadening. I looked away,  the feeling of someone standing on my chest while my heartbeat pounded in the sides of my neck took over. I looked around at the wood paneling on the walls, looking identical to the other courthouse Wil and I been in at least a dozen times over a five year time period, when my ex-husband kept taking us to court attempting to get custody of our kids.

I tried to compose myself, my nose feeling like it was about to gush everywhere. I brushed the back of my hand across my nose which was a HUGE mistake. The glob of cry-snot was overwhelming, and so was the courtroom. I stood up, now in full hyperventilating-ugly cry mode and started walking out of the courtroom, the judge calling out “Mrs. Wheaton, we are in session. You may not leave.” Too late. I was out the door, running down the hallway and into the bathroom, hyperventilating and crying out of control.

What the hell just happened? What the hell is wrong with me?

The woman handling all the jurors had followed me into the bathroom, full size box of kleenex in hand. She asked me if I was alright. Between gasps, I told her I didn’t realize it until now, but I feel like I have PTSD from years of being forced into family court. She kindly walked me out of the bathroom, back down the hallway, and sat me on a bench away from all of the jurors they had to clear the courtroom of because I left. Woops.

The woman then went in to talk to the judge and attorneys, and came back out to get me to come back in to see them. The judge was an older man, very sympathetic, and very confused looking. He asked if I was alright. The crying flooded my face again as I told him I knew it was my civic duty to be a juror and I’m sure being on a case that lasted a few days would be interesting. But being forced into doing this for so long is an unreasonable request to put on anyone, and it brings up what feels like a PTSD thing for me from years of being forced into a family law court because of my ex-husband. He asked if I had someone I could talk to about this, which I totally didn’t expect him to say. I told him I have a therapist and will be scheduling an appointment as soon as possible. He excused me from jury duty (at least until I get my next summons in a year) and I left.

I was still upset when I left the building, so I stood on the sidewalk outside the courthouse talking to Wil on the phone about what had happened. I hung up, called the therapist and scheduled an appointment, then called my best friend on the drive home (after I had calmed down.) I had jokingly said on Twitter that I was annoyed that I had jury duty, but I realized I was annoyed because I was upset that Wil and I had been working so hard on things that I was going to have to walk away from. I still couldn’t figure out why all that triggered an anxiety attack, but that’s why I was going to the therapist.

At my appointment with the therapist, (who I had only talked to in the past in regards to what was happening with the kids before they started seeing her as teenagers) she pointed out that she doesn’t know much about my background, except with what was going on with the kids, and occasionally, how Wil and I were handling all of that stuff during those years. She asked about my father (who as it turns out, is putting myself and my brother through a bit of legal junk right now, bringing the courthouse thing to the front of my mind) and how abusive was he to me. At first when I started talking about him, I didn’t think he was, but then I remembered that he hit me up until I was 15, when I was finally strong enough to stand up to him and make him stop. He was very emotionally abusive and controlling to my mom, which I always remembered, but somehow forgot about what he did to me. The therapist pointed out how I traded that physical abuse for emotional abuse with my ex-husband, and then the boyfriend after him, finally stopping that cycle of seeking that out in men when I met Wil. My life with Wil has been the two of us working so hard to be good people and separate ourselves from awful people, and that courtroom itself wasn’t the only trigger, it was the defendant sitting in front of me with that smirk who was about to control what I did with my life for the next six weeks whether I liked it or not, that brought up those feelings.

Turns out I spent all those years helping my kids get through a pretty horrible situation, but never helped myself along the way. Sure, I learned how to cope with it as much as I could, but I had felt like the way to separate myself from it was time and distance by thankfully, not seeing my father or my ex-husband for years.  No matter how much I had that space,  the old wounds resurfaced when I was forced to get close to it again. I get this fight-or-flight feeling that washes over me (It happened a year ago when I walked past that old boyfriend in Pasadena. He didn’t see me, but I saw him.) I’ve talked about all this stuff so much that what I do need to learn is how to handle that feeling that takes over me when I get in those situations. I’ve been seeing the therapist weekly since then, and I’m already feeling so much better.

So, this is why I haven’t updated my blog in a month. I wasn’t feeling up to talking about anything, really. But this is a situation that I’m sure happens to more people than we know, and sharing stuff like this I think helps others as much as it can help ourselves. I know it has helped me, so thanks for listening.